Prague, May 11 (CTK) – A three-day international conference that starts in Prague yesterday will focus on the Romany Holocaust and its influence on the identity of European Romanies.

It is held by the Terezin Initiative Institute and the Antikomplex and Romea.cz organisation.

“The view of modern history of the 20th century through the historical experience of one of minorities may shift and change our perception of the traditional narration of our national history,” Terezin Initiative Institute director Tereza Stepkova said.

She called the Holocaust a fundamental event in modern history.

Experts from the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Austria will debate the importance of mapping the Holocaust victims for the minority’s position in society on the first day of the conference.

During the second day, they will discuss these issues with with university students and Education Ministry representatives.

The conference is supposed to result in a joint statement with a recommendation of steps to be taken to improve public awareness of the Romany Holocaust.

The Friday programme will be accompanied by a theatre performance and a debate on the book Czech Gypsy Rhapsody about Romany wartime guerilla fighter Josef Serinek.

More information on the conference is available on www.terezinstudies.cz.

On Saturday, the delegates to the conference will attend a commemorative meeting in Lety, south Bohemia, where a Nazi internment camp for Romanies existed during WWII. The families of the Romany victims will also take part in the ceremony.

A pig farm is now situated at the site of the former wartime camp. Romany organisations have been striving for its relocation for years in vain and several Czech governments have dealt with the problem. The current government plans to negotiate with the farm’s owner on its purchase.

Until May 1943, 1308 Romany men, women and children were interned in the Lety camp, 327 of whom perished there and over 500 were sent to the extermination camp in Auschwitz where most of them died. According to estimates, the Nazis murdered 90 percent of Czech Romanies.